Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska
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Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  531 ratings  ·  144 reviews
The Alaskan landscape so vast, dramatic, and unbelievable may be the reason the people in Haines, Alaska (population 2,400), so often discuss the meaning of life. Heather Lende thinks it helps make life mean more. Since her bestselling first book, "If You Lived Here, I d Know Your Name," a near-fatal bicycle accident has given Lende a few more reasons to consider matters b...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 19th 2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (first published May 18th 2010)
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Diane
With the ascent of Sarah Palin on the national scene, Alaska has enjoyed a resurgence of interest, so the timing is perfect for Heather Lende's Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. Lende writes for a small local newspaper in Haines, Alaksa, and handles the obituaries. She shares the stories of some of her neighbors, including a feisty 57-year-old whom she visited as a hospice volunteer. The woman had everything organized for her death- her will, insurance, sister's phone number- she even p...more
Margo
This is a lovely follow-up to "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name." It seemed a little more personal (especially regarding her serious accident) and a little less structured around others' lives and deaths, but its essential nature was the same. There are a lot of exquisite moments, and I hope she writes more books.
Melanie
While reading this book, I am suddenly struck with the desire to move to a small remote village and try my hand at self-sufficiency. Haines, Alaska seems pretty darned cold, but they still manage to have a growing season, so maybe it's a chillier, wetter version of Monterey (except for the long, dark winters).

I first heard of Heather Lende when I subscribed to Woman's Day, (she makes Alaska sound so inviting) and chanced upon this memoir. It's the story of her serious injury (she got run over b...more
Judith
A devastating bicycle accident makes Heather even more introspective and appreciate of her life, family and friends.
I especially appreciated the moving tribute to my cousin Madeleine - one of Haines' most loved residents - who recently died of cancer.
Shelly Hicks
Enjoyed this book very much. I agree with Erin(another reader). It's an excellent mix of wisdom compassion and common sense.
Angela
Sometimes I don't think I am meant to read memoirs. Once in a while one really resonates with me but the majority of the time I read knowing I am supposed to be gaining some kind of understanding of a universal truth but not quite grasping it within the stories. I think a good part of my difficulty with memoirs is that they often do not run in a linear fashion with the story moving in chronological order. This is certainly true of Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs by Heather Lende.

This i...more
SwensonBooks
When you don't want a book to end, you know it's one you can recommend to friends. Heather Lende's 2010 book, subtitled "Family, Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska," is a heart-warming memoir.

"Part Annie Dillard, Part Anne Lamott" is the back cover description to this entertaining and enthralling depiction of real people struggling with real world issues as they stay true to living life on the edge of survival, much less civilization, in a small town in Alaska. Part Northern Exposure,...more
Mary (BookHounds)
This book explores small town life in Alaska and how the author recovered from being hit by a truck. She reminisces about the people she has helped, the people who have helped her and the loss of her mother. It is really an anthology of Heather Lende's columns from various sources. I had thought this book would be about gardens and dogs and found that the title comes from her mother's last words before her death. There are a few mentions of both dogs and gardens, but not as much as I hoped. Most...more
Patty
Life in a small town.
It does have a certain charm.
I was born in a big city but have lived in some small towns so I completely understand.


This book is a serious of essays regaling the reader with the people and quirks of living in a rural area. Weaving them together is the underlying story of Ms. Lende's accident; she was riding her bike and was hit by a car. She was critically injured and the town pulled together to help her recover. As small towns do - when I had my first surgery my hubby didn'...more
Rebecca
I didn't realize that the author from a previous book about Alaska I enjoyed had written another, funny enough until I was in Alaska. I made a passing comment that I read her first book in a tourist shop and the worker bee mentioned that she had written another book and "shes been doing much better since the accident" or something along those lines. I was like what?! So of course, I had to pick up the second book since I liked her first one so much.

Yeah, unfortunately, I guess my expectations we...more
Arlene
Who will take care of your family while you recover? Who will look after you? Did you shave your legs today?

Heather Lende recommends these questions for you to consider—in case you get run over by a truck today. Someone who once had truck tire tracks across her abdomen knows the issues to ponder. She knows the bitter before-and-after of vibrant independence crushed instantly into broken helplessness.

Lende lives in the tightly knit community of Haines, Alaska. She is a columnist for Women's Day a...more
Erin
This is one of my favorite memoirs. Lende takes just the right tone - a mix of common sense, wisdom she's learned firsthand from some of life's hard lessons, and compassion - in this story about the community of Haines, Alaska, which is intertwined with the story of her recovery from an awful biking accident in which she was run over by a car and broke 6 bones in her pelvis. It reminded me of some of my favorite memoir writers--Anne Lamott, Nora Ephron--in its tone and observations. It's optimis...more
Oswego Public Library District
Ever felt like you've been hit by a truck? Alaskan author Heather Lende literally was. Through a series of interlocking essays, Lende shares her insights into the power of community during a difficult recovery, her love of Alaska, and many insights and reflections on the issue of dying. Lende is the obituary writer for the local paper of a small town. In that role as well as her own personal crisis, she has observed how her neighbors and family members handle difficult situations. A nice inclusi...more
Amy Palmer
This book is yet another one sent to me by my lovely friend Lisa in Seattle. It's not a book (or an author) I had heard of, and those are usually the best kind that she sends me.

In Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs, Heather Lende is an author living in small town Alaska, basking in the glow of her upcoming book tour when she is run over by a truck while riding her bike. In telling the story of her accident and her recovery, the reader is introduced to her faith, her family, and her commu...more
Jan Krehel
A story of one woman's life in a small Alaskan town. Poor Heather, it seems she is obsessed with death. But, who wouldn't be if faced with it everywhere you turned...your own near death experience (run over by a truck!), working as a hospice volunteer, dealing with the death of one's mother and being saddled with writing the obituaries for the local newspaper. I felt sorry for her and thought she needed to add some humor and lightness to her life. This book was recommended to me by a good friend...more
Barbara Clemons
I love books, your E-Mail this morning notifying that I was a winner of Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs was delightful. Thanks to Goodreads and Heather!


May 16, 2011. Review.

Sometimes in your life you receive a gift. This book is a gift, as I am going through a difficult time with my brother who is terminal and my mother who is in the last stage of dementia. This is a book of love, understanding, great compassion and friendship. I love the support of family (I love the part on page 58...more
Lisa
I really enjoyed this book. I had read Heather's first book, If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name, a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed that. So I was excited to see a new one by her. Who knew while I was enjoying her first book, she was going through such a terrible ordeal. This second book tells about her near-fatal accident and her recovery, her mother's death, and a whole lot of other peoples deaths and lives. It's a gentle and comforting book, her writing is like listening to a friend cha...more
MJ
Further news from Haines, Alaska. I didn't know that the author was run over by a truck the day before her first book was released. This one touches on her recover and reentry into the active life around Haines. This one reads as well as the first...but if I look up the dang title Goodreads will drop this review and I'll have to type it over again. Sorry.
Amy R
Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs is the last message anyone received from the author's mother before she passed away. After her own near fatal accident, author Heather Lende writes about her thoughts on life and death in small town Alaska.

I loved that this book brought a piece of my home state back to me, Alaska, even though I've never been to the southeastern part of the state. Additionally, this book cleared up a mystery for me as to why a large percentage of Alaskan Natives don't kn...more
Jennifer
I very much enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the author's previous memoirs. Much of the writing reminded me of the short-lived TV show Men In Trees, which my mother and sister obsessed over, but I could also very much relate to- and find interesting- the discussions of sustainability, living off the land, how life in remote Alaska differs from life elsewhere with regard to convenience.

I also appreciated Heather Lende's musings on life, death, illness and injury. Anyone who has l...more
Kelly

Another good book by Lende. Lende talks about her healing (of the body and the heart) that occurred after she was run over by a pick up truck while riding her bike on a beautiful day in her Alaska hometown. With no hospital close by she was flown to one hospital and then another. She writes with humor and warmth. She writes the obituaries for her local paper, meeting the deceased relatives first to get information about the deceased person so she can write an accurate portrayal of who they were....more
Joan Colby
Reading Heather Lende’s second memoir underscores how comforting it must be to be a member of a tight-knit community like Haines, Alaska and to have an abiding belief in the goodness of God despite adversity. Lende’s first book focused on the obits she writes for the Alaska paper. She and her husband Chip have lived in the coastal town for over 25 years and have 5 children. The new book centers on her near-fatal bicycle accident—a badly broken pelvis—to which I could relate having a similar frac...more
Anne
I really liked this book a lot. It gives you a glimpse into small town Alaska, its peoples and its culture,a place where people dream of going. This book tells the story of how the author survived being run over by a truck and her road to recovery and how her life became even better because of it. This book is inspirational in that sometime in life we will all get hit with something bad (even if it is not literally a truck) and this book is kind of a roadmap on how to overcome your difficulties...more
Kathy Kenney
Of course, another wonderful read by Heather Lende. She's an Alaskan, so I am a bit biased. A tad bit religious for me, but nothing in your face; Lende's references to religion did actually flow very well in her book and once you read the first chapter you will understand why. I really appreciate her perspective on many things in life. She is a person I would love to meet one day and go on a hike or run or ski venture with to discuss life in general.....ahh, one day when I finally make it to Hai...more
Carrie Bailey
I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by this book. Lately I've been just picking up random books off the new acquisition shelf of my local library with very mixed results but this one is definitely a winner. I love her descriptions of small town Alaska, her neighbors, and the beautiful scenery. There is a lot of talk of death and grief but also hope, recovery, and life. I just finished a chapter in which she described her pet black chickens walking right off the roof of the chicken coop into...more
Matthew Kunnari
It is kind of like the liberal version of Sarah Palin's Alaska, which I've never watched, but can only imagine. Heather is a relaxed prose style, which makes for a good, enjoyable, perhaps quick read. She seems like a good friend you haven't seen in a while, and when you do, it isn't awkward, talk simply falls into place where it left off. Ever chapter could be a separate short story, but once through the book, you'll have a fairly intimate portrait of her life in Alaska. There are some thoughtf...more
Gloria
Ever felt like you've been hit by a truck? Alaskan author Heather Lende literally was. Through a series of interlocking essays, Lende shares her insights into the power of community during a difficult recovery, her love of Alaska, and many insights and reflections on the issue of dying. Lende is the obituary writer for the local paper of a small town. In that role as well as her own personal crisis, she has observed how her neighbors and family members handle difficult situations. A nice inclusi...more
Suzanne Freeman
I really liked this book. It's a great followup to "If You Lived Here I'd Know Your Name." Just before leaving on a tour for the first book, the author was hit by a truck while riding her bike. It crushed her pelvis and took her nine plus months to fully recover. She also lost her mother to cancer a year after the accident.

Lende is an inspiring person who carefully considers the social and moral implications of how she and her family live their lives. This woman could live anywhere and tell a g...more
Debbi
I picked up this book after reading "Ordinary Wolves" This is the other side of Alaska; softer, gentler, a more civilized wilderness. Like Northern exposure or Lake Wobegon, the small town community is romanticized. It is a books of essays inspired by Heather Lende' life changing bicycle accident. The writing is positive and thoughtful on the topics of family, friends, death and gratitude. I did find myself longing for the cozy small town experience. Then I remembered that I lived in a small tow...more
Donna Jo Atwood
It's not that death has no mysteries for someone who writes obituaries, it's that the writer has turned death' mystery into a way of meeting and celebrating life.
Lende survived a serious bike accident and went on to not just cope with life but to enjoy the good with the bad. Along the way she has written about her life in Haines, Alaska and her friends and neighbors--both the living and the dead. An Episcopalian, she draws on a great wealth of spiritual tradtion to tie life together.
I had enjoye...more
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Heather lives in Haines, Alaska. She writes obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News and has a new column in Woman's Day. She is the author of the bestselling Alaskan memoir, "If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name" (Algonquin, 2005.) Her new book, "Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs" (Algonquin) was released in May 2010 and will come out in paperback April 2011. (The title is her mother's las...more
More about Heather Lende...
If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: A True Story of Bad Breaks and Small Miracles Find the Good

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“I wonder if to be human is to know that we can't ever banish pain and ugliness from the world, only learn from it and create something beautiful and good out of it ...” 2 likes
“But like most actions that rely on faith, it still took plenty of our own muscle and ingenuity.” 1 likes
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